Quick on the heels of last weekend’s unofficial Memorial Day summer kickoff, National Trails Day is celebrated annually on the first Saturday of June. The American Hiking Society (AHS) works hard to provide a variety of activities every year on NTD. This year events range from ”hikes, biking and horseback rides, paddling trips, birdwatching, geocaching, gear demonstrations, stewardship projects and more.”
It’s a great day to get out and meet fellow nature lovers. If you’re new to hiking, there are lots of guided introductory hikes and if you’re a long-time hiker this is a great opportunity to volunteer for a day of trail maintenance work. Let us know what events you’ll be joining and we’ll report back next week on our first NTD with a baby in tow!
Springtime has finally arrived and it’s time to get back on the trails. This was our first time “hiking” since little E was born in January, so we chose Couchville Lake Trail at Long Hunter State Park, a quick and easy hiking trail just outside of Nashville.
Lots of quiet spots for fishing or just relaxing along the paved trail at Couchville Lake.
Scenery (2.0 out of 5.0): Couchville Lake Trail makes for a nice, if uneventful, day out in nature. The terrain is completely flat and paved – a bonus if you’re carting a long a stroller (as we saw quite a few folks doing). The trail loops through Tennessee’s first state-certified arboretum in a State Park and there are markings along the paved path that identify different types of trees. This trail would make a good starting point for anyone interested in learning how to identify different tree types. Here’s a guide to identifying the trees along the Couchville Lake Trail.
There are some nice views of the small lake and quite a few places to stop and enjoy the quiet scenery, including benches and short fishing piers. The tall trees provide a great canopy for about 85% of the time on the trail… looking up at the tall trees and leaves was very entertaining for our little guy. This trail seemed to be a great intro for his entry into the outdoors
Difficulty (0 out of 5): This trail truly could not be any easier. The flat path is completely paved and well maintained, which kind of makes it a stretch to call this a “hike” but it is a nice spot for a walk in the woods. Cyclists and skaters are prohibited – basically anything with wheels (except strollers and wheelchairs) are prohibited, making it much more relaxing than some other busy trails in the area. We saw quite a few joggers – this is a great, easy spot for a short run.
The trailhead for the Lake Trail is very close to the Bryant Grove Trail. If you’d like to add some distance on to your hike, combine these two trails for a 10 trek.
Babies welcomed at Couchville Lake Trail, but not doggies.
Length: 2 miles
Dog Friendly Factor (0 out of 5.0): Dogs are prohibited at Couchville Lake Trail. There are several signs and the area is well patrolled by the park rangers, so it’s best to leave the pups at home for this day outdoors.
Convenience (5.0 out of 5.0): Couchville Lake is right next to Percy Priest Lake, making it a quick and easy trip. Entry to Couchville Lake area is well marked and just down the road from the Volunteer Day Loop trail.
Bonus Funtimes (3.5 out of 5.0): Bonus Funtimes is where Couchville Lake excels. There’s a pavillion for cookouts and parties, lots of great spots for fishing, a nice sized playground for the kiddos, the arboretum guide and small boats are available for rent during the summertime months.
Ahh, the third trimester… the pregnancy homestretch. Although depending on how you’re feeling it can either crawl or fly by. Our little fella will be joining us “on the outside” in the next week or two, so I thought this would be a good chance to recap what I learned about hiking while pregnant during the third trimester.
For me, some weeks flew by while others trudged along, which was reflected on how much we were able to get outdoors. Between the growing belly and uncooperative weather we didn’t get out on the trails as much as I had hoped during the third trimester, but we still managed to hit up quite a few trails… and learn a few good lessons in the process.
Meet my new best friend: Trekking Poles. Ahh, trekking poles. I didn’t get a pair until the beginning of the third trimester and regretted not getting them earlier. Once I started using trekking poles I was able to keep up with Nate and the dogs at a much more comfortable pace.
Hiking while 39 weeks pregnant with my new favorite gear: trekking poles.
I’m not exactly sure of the particulars, but using the trekking poles reduced the pressure on my belly and virtually eliminated round ligament pains. Plus the reassurance of having the extra balancing support helped minimize my concern about trips or falls. My recommendation to anyone would be to pick up a pair of trekking poles early in the second trimester – you’ll get a lot of use out of them and it will make hiking while pregnant far more enjoyable.
Shorter distances and flatlands. While the trekking poles certainly helped me to extend the distances that I was able to hike, third trimester hiking distances were a far cry from the first and second trimester. Ideally if we go hiking we’ll do a minimum of six miles… that definitely changed as the third trimester progressed. Hilly and rocky terrain was exchanged for smooth, flat trails and we slowly decreased our mileage down to about 2 miles for the last few hikes. The last few hikes have been very s-l-o-w going, but still worth the effort.
While it was kind of a bummer to skip over the more adventurous hikes, the refreshing feeling that came from simply being outdoors and stretching my legs during the third trimester provided a real boost to my energy – both physically and emotionally. I highly recommend getting out as much as you can… word on the street is that things change A LOT when the baby makes his arrival.
It’s been a great 9.75 months for both me and Nate and we can’t wait to share with you what we learn about parenting while getting out and about in nature.
So that’s my two cents worth. What’s been your experience being active and outdoorsy while pregnant?
Who doesn’t love a year-end recap? This year’s hikes took us farther and higher than ever before and gave us new challenges that wore us out, but gave us a great sense of pride. Here’s a recap of our favorite hikes of 2012 – not surprisingly the bulk of them came from our trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, but there were also a few faves from Tennessee…
Favorite Trails of 2012
Sky Pond and Glass Lake Trail - Once atop the waterfall climb, you’re greeted by a mini-valley of sorts that isn’t visible from the trail below. In just a few steps you’re at the edge of the Lake of Glass, another spot that offers stunning views.
Alum Cave Trail on Mt. Leconte - With an elevation change just shy of 3,000′ in 5.5 miles (one way), this trail left us worn out and weary, but with a great sense of accomplishment. The difficulty of this trail is not just the distance, but the elevation change and occasionally tricky footing.
Grays Peak - Nothing beats the view from the summit of a mountain… especially one that provides so many sweeping panoramic scenes…
Cummins Falls Trails - As the state’s 8th largest waterfall by volume, Cummins Falls is a dramatic and inspiring sight. While the overlook provides a decent view of the falls, it pales in comparison to the view from the base.
My personal favorite holiday is almost upon us (which means I’ve got to get to cookin’…). We hope you all enjoy a great Thanksgiving with family, friends and full bellies! Among dozens of other things, we’re thankful for the opportunity to get outdoors and share our stories with all of you. Thank you for your ongoing support!
If you’re looking for a good alternative to the frenzy of Black Friday shopping (ugh!), here’s our recommendations trails to hit up after you’ve done your best to conquer the Thanksgiving feast.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials.”